By Nangayi Guyson – N’djamena – Chad government on Saturday denied allegations by Libyan rebels fighting the government of leader Muammar Gaddafi that Chadian officers were fighting alongside Gaddafi’s soldiers.
Chad foreign minister Moussa Faki Mahmat, addressing diplomatic envoys to the Central African state’s capital, said a report by the Libyan transitional national council and submitted to the UN Security Council that alleged Chadian army officers were in Libya was untrue.
“We want to formally deny those accusations and, as proof, the officers mentioned in the report are here present,” Mahmat said, pointing to nine soldiers seated in the room. Rebels say Gaddafi has brought in African mercenaries from countries such as Chad and Zimbabwe to help Libyan troops trying to put down the uprising against Gaddafi’s rule.
The minister said Chad had asked France to help monitor its border with Libya and allegations that thousands of Chadian fighters had crossed into Libya and that Gaddafi had moved a large consignment of gold into Chad were also not true.
“How could tonnes of gold belonging to Gaddafi be sent to Chad without anyone seeing them?” he asked.
On Saturday rebels said pro-Gaddafi forces fired mortars at residential areas in Misrata and that three people were killed in clashes in the coastal Libyan city. A rebel spokesperson, Gemal Salem, said forces loyal to the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi targeted a dairy factory and another that makes cooking oil.
It was not immediately possible to independently verify their allegations. “The (Gaddafi) forces are still firing mortars at residential areas. There are clashes in Tripoli Street. Three people were killed today and 25 wounded,” the spokesperson said.
“He wants to starve the people it seems, his forces targeted the dairy factory and the factory that produces cooking oil, in addition to this his forces shelled three bakeries …,” he said.
Humanitarian Aid needed
The UK is to hold “urgent talks” at the United Nations about the “dire” humanitarian crisis affecting residents in western Libya.
The rebel-held western town of Misrata has been under attack from Colonel Gaddafi’s forces for over five weeks.
On Sunday, six civilians were reported to have died and more have been injured in a barrage of rocket fire.
Prime Minister David Cameron said the UK would not invade and it was important to adhere to the UN mandate.
Opponents of Libyan leader Col Gaddafi also say at least 47 people were wounded when his forces shelled Misrata, on Sunday morning. Pro-government fighters are also said to have shelled Ajdabiya in the east.
UK International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell will discuss plans to increase aid and medical supplies and ensure better access during a meeting at the UN in New York, on Monday.
The UK’s Department for International Development said: “Reports from within Libya indicate that the humanitarian situation in certain areas in western Libya, where international agencies have no access, is dire.”
It said approximately 300 civilians had been killed and a further 1,000 injured in Misrata since late February.
Agencies have said there are shortages of critical supplies and attacks targeted against civilians and medical facilities, preventing staff from working.
There is concern medical centres are operating at maximum capacity and some severely injured people cannot leave the city for treatment because of the fighting.
The UN is also said to be worried that there could be outbreaks of water-borne diseases.
DfID said the UK had supported a range of international organisations and British-funded relief items had already reached a number of areas, including Misrata.
But it added: “The continued violence and lack of access for humanitarian support is making conditions on the ground for civilians worse.”
Mr Mitchell said the humanitarian situation in Misrata was “of great concern”.
“It is vital that we continue to get help, such as food, water or medical supplies, through to people. Humanitarian agencies must be given free and unfettered access to Misrata and other areas affected by fighting,” he said.
Libya’s government, meanwhile, has denied a suggestion from Human Rights Watch that its forces are using cluster bombs, which are banned by more than 100 countries, in Misrata.